What Gets Socorro On The Bucket List for So Many Divers?
Why is Socorro at the top of the bucket list of so many divers? The Revillagigedo archipelago often referred to as “Socorro” or the “Mexican Galápagos”, is only accessible with a liveaboard departing from Cabo San Lucas. Do you know when is the best season to dive there, and what to expect?
Located in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Socorro is part of the Mexican “Revillagigedo Archipelago”. About 386 km (240 miles) southwest of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. Sailing on a liveaboard, it takes up to 24 hours to reach the islands.
As a UNESCO world heritage site and part of the large Marine Protected Area since 2017 (making it forbidden to fish or mine), the archipelago is largely uninhabited, with only two naval bases. The islands provide critical habitat for several bird species and it is forbidden to set foot on the islands.
The four islands - San Benedicto, Socorro, Roca Partida, and Clarión, are part of a submerged volcano range. The underwater shelf around the islands drops off steeply at around 12 km from the shorelines.
The Mexican government restricts the number of diving boats allowed - there are only nine licensed liveaboards, so Socorro is often fully-booked six months to a year in advance.
Socorro Is a Superhighway for Pelagic Species
Both the California and Equatorial currents meet at the Revillagigedo archipelago and the island surroundings act as a stop-over location for many pelagic species.
With 366 species of fish, including 26 endemic to the islands, as well as 37 species of rays and sharks, plus whales and turtles, it is a biologically exceptional location. No wonder it attracts scuba divers from all around the world!
It is particularly famous for its friendly oceanic manta rays that can grow up to 7 meters (23 feet) in wingspan, and its dolphins, both of which can be seen throughout the season.
But lets not forget that there are up to 2,000 humpback whales who migrate down from Alaska each year, and the islands function as calving grounds. Scuba divers can hear the sounds of these majestic animals, adding another dimension to an already unforgettable diving experience!
When Is the Best Season to Dive in Socorro?
The best time to dive in the Revillagigedo Archipelago is from November to mid-June. The rest of the year, the sea is too rough for liveaboards to make the journey, and the late June to October is the hurricane season.
Whatever the season you choose to go, it might be hard to decide where to look while diving! Do you choose the hammerheads, the giant mantas, the dolphins?
All along the diving season, from November to June, there are oceanic mantas, dolphins, and up to 10 species of sharks.
From November to January, whale sharks are migrating.
A little later, in February and March, you might see some humpback whales, or at least, hear them!
Hammerheads season is March and April. And finally, May and June are bait ball season.
We particularly like March as it gives a good opportunity to see humpback whales and hammerhead sharks, along with the “usual” giant mantas and dolphins.
Is Socorro, or the Revillagigedo Archipelago, Suited to All Divers?
Temperature-wise, expect slightly cooler temperatures from January to April.
There are some currents on most sites, sometimes unexpected. It is recommended to have an Advanced Open Water or above, at least 50 dives under your belt, and feel confident in currents.
For the divers who enjoy currents, get ready for some exhilarating drift dives along drop-offs, on seamounts and pinnacles!
The visibility can vary from 12 to 30 meters (12 to 30 feet) with the tide, plankton boom, wind, and rain.
What Are the Must-See Dive Sites of the Revillagigedo Archipelago?
Some of the most famous dive sites are The Boiler, a cleaning station for manta rays, The Canyon where you can see several sharks species. On both, there are dolphins and sometimes even some humpbacks in their migrating season.
OOn Socorro Island, you’ll dive on Cabo Pearce, The Aquarium, and Punta Tosca. You will see more pelagic in this rocky area and some macro too.
At Roca Partida a famous island of the archipelago, you’ll dive on a big pinnacle that goes all the way down to 60 meters (200 feet), with some caves at around 18 meters depth (60 feet).
What’s a Socorro Dive Trip Look Like?
Liveaboards depart from Cabo San Lucas, about an hour drive from San Jose del Cabo (SJD) international airport. Some dive companies do include return airport transfers.
There is a 24-hours crossing to get to the archipelago (and come back from it). That means you can usually fly on the same day of the liveaboard departure and return!
Most liveaboard trips last 8 to 9 nights with a total of 18 to 20 dives for 5 to 7 days of diving. On a typical day, you’ll get to do 3 to 4 dives.
What to Pack for a Liveaboard to Socorro?
Divers typically use a 5 mm wetsuit with a hood. If you tend to be cold, bring a 7mm wetsuit, a sharkskin with a hood, and some gloves.
Several dive companies will lend you a Nautilus lifeline for the duration of the trip, and it’s also good to have your SMB. Currents can be strong so make sure your fins are appropriate for these conditions.
Aside from the usual diving equipment, you can bring several bathing suits as you’ll want to stay dry between dives, some warm and comfortable clothes for the evenings (a couple of sweaters, some leggings), and why not a windbreaker.
Take along some sea sickness tablets if you’re prone to it, a good book for the crossing, and plenty of battery and SD cards for your camera!
Find the Best Deals to Dive in Socorro
For a liveaboard recommendation to go to Socorro, and to get some help to organize your trip (flights, dives before or after, hotel recommendations…) without any added fees, contact SeaCrush, the only reef-friendly dive travel agency.
We know all the dive companies there and receive their deals and special offers all along the year.
Mexico is currently open to international tourism without any COVID-19 RT-PCR test required.
If you’d like to know more about safe interactions with manta rays, read our other article: 6 Rules to Know When Scuba Diving with Manta Rays